my coworkers complained I’m not working fast enough, and more — Ask a Manager

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

1. My coworkers complained I’m not working fast enough

A bunch of good changes have happened at my job that have impacted the problem I wrote in about a few months ago. The boss who told me folks were complaining about how I worked took a position in another department and we got a new boss who is higher on the org chart than old boss.

So far, it seems like my old boss, while nice, was a bit controlling over weird things. We now are allowed to work on anything to make up time from being sick/holidays/whatever by working on anything, whereas before if there weren’t any customer-facing tasks then you were out of luck making up your time. We also have more flexibility with our hours in general.

And the biggest update; we’re completely updating and overhauling the task that someone was complaining about and in the future won’t be working on it the same way at all. I feel like if someone did complain to her, they are no longer feeling like things are overly rigid. And if it was her way to say she had a problem with it, well it isn’t her problem anymore. I still like her as a person but I’m starting to see that her management style wasn’t as good as I thought it was. Maybe in the past the role needed more supervision but I think it outgrew that need and she didn’t outgrow wanting to hover. The team I’m on does great and our new boss is happy with our performance.

Also; the task that was being worked on lived in Google Sheets. It was a list of links to the company website to look at customer summitted data, and then we were to make a determination on if we wanted to use that data or not and mark in the spreadsheet as well as in the company website. It was impossible to work in offline, and the way it was set up, unless you weren’t doing your own work and staring at someone else, it’s really hard to know what someone is up to. It was also highly inefficient.

Thanks again for the advice and feedback from the commenters.

2. I manage a manager who’s uncomfortable discussing staff performance (#2 at the link)

Unfortunately, despite a few additional targeted conversations with Sally in which I 1) made it clear what a necessary part of the job it was, and 2) provided additional resources to her, Sally was just not able to engage in even the most basic conversations about Jane’s job performance. Taking Sally off the project or changing her role significantly wasn’t an option for multiple reasons (all bureaucratic and due to the nature of Sally’s position/educational background) so Sally continued to lead the project that Jane works on. A few months after I wrote to you, I took another job opportunity – a fully remote position that was a step up for me and also double (!!!!!) the pay. I’ve kept in touch with one of the other managers from my old workplace, who works directly with Jane. This person shared that Jane’s development has stalled and that Sally’s perspective has not changed, at least in any way that’s observable.

3. Coworkers and eating disorder recovery (#4 at the link)

Not really much to report here – the situation didn’t present itself again. I suppose I must have been standoff-ish enough in my responses to her that she just decided to stop asking! We’re also allowed to eat at our desks again. While I still have to walk past her desk to heat up food, I’m under less scrutiny than when folks go into the kitchen.

I wish I had more for you! I was ready to use your advice, but never had the chance.

4. “My rates aren’t unreasonable, you just can’t afford me” (#4 at the link)

Thank you so much for answering my letter! I was sadly traveling so I couldn’t be in the comment section on the day it went up, but I used your advice to rewrite my response to the following:

“Absolutely no problem, it sounds like it’s not the right fit for this project. I’m sure you will have no problem finding someone with rates that suit your budget, and I look forward to seeing [XYZ project] in the future!”

To which I got no reply until yesterday, when he replied asking if I could “just compare two documents” if I had a moment (= do unpaid work), so I replied with:

“I’m terribly sorry, I’ve taken on a project with another client and don’t have any availability right now. Best of luck!”

Hope I handled that ok! Your website is really useful for many reasons, but for me one of the main issues is nailing the right tone on emails. Thank you for all your work 🙂

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